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Rybakina rallies to reach Madrid semis, Sabalenka eases past Andreeva

tennis01 May 2024 20:07| © AFP
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Fourth seed Elena Rybakina rallied from a set down to beat fellow Kazakhstani Yulia Putintseva 4-6 7-6(4) 7-5 in a two-hour and 48-minute battle as she advanced to her first Madrid Open semi-final on Wednesday.

The 50th-ranked Putintseva looked on course to cause an upset as she put on a near-flawless display to take the opening set in 45 minutes, but Rybakina managed to regain her composure and saved two match points at 5-2 down in the final set.

"It was really tough. I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was hoping I'd start better... it wasn't easy always coming back," Rybakina said.

"At 2-5, I already left the emotions and frustration and just kept playing. The momentum shifted. Yulia started to get a bit more angry and some mistakes helped me. I just kept on playing.

"I'm really happy."

After an underwhelming start, Rybakina stepped up a gear to level the contest by taking a tight second set, which was ultimately settled in a tiebreak where she made the most of her opportunities, securing it with a high backhand volley.

This is the 24-year-old's first win against Putintseva, who had won their previous two encounters.

After an underwhelming start, Rybakina stepped up a gear to level the contest by taking a tight second set, which was ultimately settled in a tiebreak where she made the most of her opportunities, securing it with a high backhand volley.

This is the 24-year-old's first win against Putintseva, who had won their previous two encounters.

Rybakina will face Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday after defending champion beat 17-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva 6-1 6-4.

The Belarusian world number two, who is chasing a third Madrid title, looked dominant throughout as she did not drop serve in a match that lasted just over an hour.

"I'm super happy with the level I played today, happy to get this win. (Andreeva) is an incredible player even though she's super young. Hopefully I can keep going the way I'm going," Sabalenka said.

"It's never easy if you get to the semifinals. Elena (Rybakina) is a great player. We had so many great battles.

"It's gonna be a tough challenge, but I’m happy to accept this challenge. Hopefully I'm gonna bring my best tennis," the 25-year-old added.

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